The best known use of citronella essential oil (Cymbopogon nardus) is as an insect repellent, although the oil also has other uses. The scent is uplifting and can help clear the mind.
Plant family: Poaceae/Gramineae
Production: Steam distilled from the leaves of the plant, which is a perennial grass. A cousin to lemongrass, citronella is distinguished by its reddish stems.
Aroma: Lemony, sharp, sweet
Perfume/Aromatic note: Top
Is citronella safe to use during pregnancy? No.
Is citronella essential oil safe for children? Generally, yes. Do not use on babies under 6 months. For skin use on ages 6 months to 2 years, use a blend containing no more than 0.5% citronella, that is, a maximum of 3 drops of essential oil in two tablespoons of carrier oil.
Cautions: May irritate highly sensitive or damaged skin.
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art suggests citronella added to a warm bath may improve sleep (however, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Third Edition, Vol. 1 recommends not using the oil in a bath). The oil is a physical and emotional purifier that may relieve the symptoms of colds and help oily complexions.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Uses of citronella essential oil include helping relieve muscle aches and pains, excessive perspiration, fungus, fatigue, and insect bites.
Essential Oils: All Natural Remedies: Citronella balances skin prone to oiliness, freshens and clears air, and enhances focus. You can make a foot lotion for smelly feet by adding a few drops to unscented lotion base.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): Citronella oil supports the immune system during colds and flu. Good for oily skin and to relieve excessive perspiration. May help relieve fatigue and headaches.
Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Citronella calms and balances the first through the fourth chakras. The essential oil connects these energy centers and aligns them with the upper chakras.
Mixing Essential Oils for Magic: Citronella's strong purification qualities are especially powerful for purifying and protecting the aura for psychic work. The oil clears negativity; attracts love, friends, and prosperity; and helps focus the mind for communication and creativity.
Here are three ways to use citronella as an insect repellent:
Mosquito Repelling Balm
Source: Rocky Mountain Oils
Face wash for oily, acne-prone skin:
Blend baking soda and arrowroot powder into coconut oil. Stir in essential oils. Spoon mixture into small glass container. Rub a little under your arms as needed.
All-purpose cleaning spray:
Add ingredients to a 16-ounce spray bottle. Shake well before each use.
Remove fleas from your carpet with this powder:
Stir the essential oils into the borax. Place the mixture into a shaker jar. Shake generously on your carpet. Let sit one hour. Vacuum the carpet. Repeat daily until all fleas are gone. Source: Essential Oils: Natural Remedies
Photo Credit: James Steakley - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0